Just three days before a hotly contested election, the Tarrant Regional Water District is claiming they’ve been awarded $440 million in state funding. According to an official spokesperson at the Texas Water Development Board, no such award has been made.
The TRWD’s communications department issued a press release on May 6 claiming their “Integrated Pipeline Project [IPL]…has been awarded $440 million by the state.”
Not true, according to the state agency.
In fact, the TWDB announced the same day that thirty-nine eligible applicants across Texas have only been preliminarily approved to apply for funding.
The TWDB’s May 6th statement read, “The Texas Water Development Board today approved the first-ever project prioritization list for the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT)… Sponsors with projects on the list are now invited to officially apply for financial assistance.” [Emphasis added]
At the state agency’s May 6th meeting earlier in the day, it was noted their action was only the first step of the SWIFT process, and is inviting local entities to apply for funding.
It was reiterated that funding decisions would be scrutinized in the following months after districts submit more detailed funding applications. There are no guarantees.
The Tarrant Regional Water District’s erroneous announcement came just three days before the district’s hotly contested election on Saturday, May 9th, where two long-time incumbents, Marty Leonard and Jim Lane, face challengers Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner.
Interestingly, the release only contained quotes from incumbents Leonard and Lane, the same officials seeking re-election. The three other board members were not quoted.
The incumbents have come under intense scrutiny over the last several years by area residents and reform-minded board member, Mary Kelleher, for a variety of issues including its controversial “economic development” project in downtown Fort Worth that plans to redirect the Trinity River under the guise of “flood control.”
To date, the Trinity River Vision Authority, a non-transparent subsidiary of the TRWD that’s jointly controlled by Tarrant County and the City of Fort Worth, has spent $243 million since inception. Attempts to review a breakdown of those expenditures have thus far been resisted by the entities involved.